The Centre for Coastal Management (CMM) at the University of Cape Coast (UCC) has found that fishermen must travel farther at sea before catching fish due to Ghana's declining fish population, according to Dr Isaac Okyere, the Academic Coordinator for CMM, at a media training programme in Accra.
The Centre's findings were part of a project titled: “Promoting Local Capacity to Address the Destabilizing Impacts of Foreign Fishing Vessels in the Gulf of Guinea and Mauritania,” coordinated by CEMLAWS Africa and the Centre for Coastal Management (CCM), University of Cape Coast, funded by the US Department of State, US Embassy in Accra.
Dr Okyere explained that fishermen must travel more than twice as far as they used to before landing a catch, citing Ghana's declining fish population, with the country reporting a total fish capture volume of 343,800 metric tonnes in 2014 compared to 309,320 metric tonnes documented for 2019.
According to Ghanaian vessel catch data, fishermen caught 254,200 metric tonnes in 2014, accounting for 73.93 per cent of the country's catch, utilising 9,951 total canoes, which included both motorised and non-motorised canoes for the expedition.
Giving more information on fish captures, Dr Okyere stated that in 2019, the overall number of canoes grew to approximately 14,275, with the volume catch decreasing to 170,149 metric tonnes at 55.01 per cent. Dr Okyere revealed that in 2014, 403 semi-industrial vessels caught 6,100 metric tonnes of fish, but in 2019, the vessels reduced to 224, catching 11,353 metric tonnes.
He added that the 107 trawlers documented in 2014 caught 18,500 metric tonnes of fish, compared to the 74 trawlers catching 37,507 metric tonnes of fish in the 2019 data.
In 2014, tuna vessels comprised 20 bait and 11 purse seine landed a catch volume of 65,000, compared to 90,311 landed by 30 tuna vessels comprised of 14 bait and 16 purse seine.
He revealed that the country's stock of Sardinella, also known as herrings, and used to be the backbone of Ghana's artisanal fishing (canoe fishing), was in jeopardy due to poor landings reported in 2019. He added that tiny pelagic stocks were severely overfished and that Ghana's fish resource was in desperate need of rejuvenation.